Feedback Myth #1: I have to build significant capacity with someone before giving feedback
Many people feel like you have to build a large amount of relational capacity with people before you can give them critical feedback. In fact, at The Flippen Group we teach the importance of this frequently (hopefully none of my colleagues read my blogs!). The truth is, I agree with building capacity first. Where the myth comes in is that people, especially people who are particularly nurturing, define building capacity to include things such as knowing them for a lengthy amount of time, knowing them on a day-to-day basis, etc. In reality, some of you nurturing people out there exude so much genuine concern for people that you literally build capacity as soon as you meet someone.
In my job, I often have one hour over the phone with a stranger, and within minutes we are having a direct (but fun) discussion about their shortcomings. Did I know them before the call? Did I work with them daily? No, but at the beginning of the call I certainly try to engage them well and obtain important background information. I absolutely communicate that my goal is to help them achieve their goals and I do affirm countless strengths of theirs.
My point is, some of us wait too long before we are willing to speak up and try to stretch someone or address an issue we see. Trust me, there is a fine art to this so don’t write down four names and decide to give them feedback today! J That’s a topic for a different blog, but for now make sure that the more nurturing types out there realize that you may earn the right faster than you realize.
Also realize that having a more delicate conversation in which you genuinely try to help someone be better can actually build relational capacity itself! I know that I have utmost respect for people who have challenged me over the years (even if I didn’t always want to hear it!).